Earlier this year, I happened upon a Buzzfeed article – The 27 Most Exciting Books Coming In 2016 – and thought, “huh… I guess I could take these recommendations and see where they lead me.” And then I came across 20 Incredible Books From The Past Year That You Need To Read Right Now and thought, “yeah – I probably do need to read these RIGHT NOW.” Then there were 16 YA Books You’ll Want To Read This Spring. And 15 Books To Read If You Love A Shocking Plot Twist, 9 Books You Should Read Now That The Oscars Are Over, and 15 Book Series To Read If You Enjoyed “The Hunger Games”…
Before I knew what was happening, I had books on hold, books stacked by the bed, and books I couldn’t possibly finish before they were due back at the library. I paused for a moment, took stock of my situation, and realized that I’ve already read sixteen new (to me) books in 2016. Although I didn’t make that a goal for myself, it seems like the sort of resolution I might have made, if I’d been trying. Here’s what I’ve managed to read so far this year:
- The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray – I had a hard time staying involved in this book. I think my mind wasn’t ready to follow the plot spirals through time.
- Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson – ballet in New York City in the 70s – with an inappropriate relationship thrown in for good measure.
- Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa – I think my only problem with this book was wrapping my head around the concept that the WTO riots were the setting for a historical fiction novel. That was rough to swallow, but if you can get past your own ego on that one, this is well worth the read.
- The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni – as the second book in my book-club-of-one with some disturbing interpersonal situations, I started wondering what I’d gotten myself into. Well-written, but I would recommend spacing the heavy reading out a little more than I did.
- Ruby: A Novel by Cynthia Bond – this book is so, so, so well done. Gorgeous imagery, wonderful characterization, and it fully draws you into the world of the novel. It also is so disturbing that I have trouble recommending it to others. It’s a hard read because of the horrible truths it portrays and the deep damage it does to characters you care about. It’s still on my mind, after reading it months ago. I see that there is a second book in the Ruby trilogy, and I am rejoicing that I’ll get to read more of Bond’s writing. And frightened of what else might happen to these book friends of mine. If you’re up for dealing with traumatic plot points set in the South over several decades, I encourage you to check this book out.
- The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter – this was the first book from the YA list, and I probably should have known from the title that it was going to have some dark content. Again – I’d encourage you to read it, but take this as your trigger-warning.
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh – in spite of the murder, magical curses, and political posturing in this book, this one turned out to be the first light fare I’d set myself up for. Finally – a book I could relax with and just enjoy.
- The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah – back to tough subject-matter including a murder trial, death row, and race-relations in Zimbabwe. Highly recommended.
- Whispers Through a Megaphone by Rachel Elliott – I loved this book. It took me away from some of the darkness on my list – perhaps because it is set in our modern world of social media. Although, I should admit that the plot centers around emotional damage done to the main character.
- Divergent by Veronica Roth – this is the first I read from the Hunger Games list, and it fit my expectations exactly. It’s the sort of fast-paced read that makes it easy to stay up all night, with a strong female lead that you cheer for nearly right away.
- The Anatomist’s Dream by Clio Gray – this was another one that was difficult for me to stick with. I loved the descriptions throughout, but felt slightly removed from the plot. I didn’t feel that the main character’s thread kept me engaged in his transformation, but I could easily blame that on my attention span rather than the writing.
- The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh – this is the sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I enjoyed reading this one. I found myself lost in plot points on occasion, but the author quickly caught me back up. With the subject matter at hand, I think this was probably intentional.
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – this one felt like a light read until about midway through the book. Then it suddenly became heavier and stayed that way throughout. Good read, but I probably wasn’t prepared for it to be so intense.
- Still Alice by Lisa Genova – the frightening world of alzheimer’s, from the sufferer’s point of view. Beautiful, difficult, and intense.
- Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – as my third book in a row about death, dying, and incurable disease… this was a great read, but was nearly as emotionally difficult for me as the run of heavy books toward the beginning of the year.
At this point, I have 6 books checked out from the library, 25 on hold, and 241 that I’ve pegged as something I’ll want to read later. Doesn’t seem too ambitious, right? All that is before I dive into 21 Books By POC Writers That You Should Definitely Read At Some Point, 33 Celebrity Books That Are Actually Really Good, and 21 Books Every Woman Should Read In Her Lifetime…
Wish me luck!